I need help!
While domestic violence affects one out of three women, each situation is different. Please call 919-545-0224 or visit our office to craft a safety plan best suited to your needs. If you are not located in Chatham County, NC, please call the national domestic violence hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to be directed to advocates in your area.
Q.1 What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person with whom an intimate relationship is or has been shared through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. Battering happens when one person believes that they are entitled to control another. Abuse generally falls into one or more of the following categories: physical battering, sexual assault and emotional or psychological abuse, and generally escalates over a period of time.
Q.2 What are some signs of a battering personality? (From the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
Jealousy: At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser may say that jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love. It is a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust. The abuser may question his partner about who she talks to, accuse her of flirting, or be jealous of time she spends with family, friends, or children. As the jealousy progresses, he may call her frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly. He may refuse to let her work for fear she'll meet someone else, or even engage in behaviors such as checking her car mileage or asking friends to watch her.
Controlling Behavior: At first the batterer will say this behavior is due to his concern for her safety, her need to use her time well, or her need to make good decisions. He will be angry if the woman is "late" coming back from the store or an appointment; he will question her closely about where she went and who she talked with. As this behavior progresses, he may not let the woman make personal decisions about the house, her clothing, or even going to church. He may keep all the money or even make her ask permission to leave the house or room.
Quick Involvement: Many battered women dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were married, engaged, or living together. He comes on like a whirlwind, claiming, "you're the only person I could ever talk to", or "I've never been loved like this by anyone." He will pressure the woman to commit to the relationship in such a way that later the woman may feel very guilty or that she's "letting him down" if she wants to slow down involvement or break off the relationship.
Unrealistic Expectations: Abusive people will expect their partner to meet all their needs. He expects a perfect wife, mother, lover, friend. He will says things such as "if you love me, I'm all you need, and you're all I need." His partner is expected to take care of everything for him emotionally and in the home.
Isolation: The abusive person tries to cut his partner off from all resources. If she has male friends, she's a "whore." If she has women friends, she's a lesbian. If she's close to family, she's "tied to the apron strings." He accuses people who are the woman's supports of "causing trouble." He may want to live in the country, without a telephone, or refuse to let her drive the car, or he may try to keep her from working or going to school.
Blames others for problems and feelings: If he is chronically unemployed, someone is always doing him wrong or out to get him. He may make mistakes and then blame the women for upsetting him and keeping him from concentrating on the task at hand. He may tell the woman she is at fault for virtually anything that goes wrong in his life. The abuser may tell his partner "you make me mad," "you 're hurting me by not doing what I want you to do," or "I can't help being angry ." He is the one who makes the decision about what he thinks or feels, but he will use these feelings to manipulate his partner. Harder to catch are claims, "you make me happy," or "you control how I feel.”
Q.3 What is the pattern of abuse?
The abuser lashes out with aggressive or violent behavior. The abuse is a power play to show the victim "who's boss." After the abusive episode, the abuser feels guilt, but not over what he's done to the victim. The guilt is over the possibility of being caught. The abuser rationalizes what he's done. He may come up with a string of excuses or blame the victim for his behavior. He may even deny the abuse happened - anything to shift responsibility from himself. The abuser will then do everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. He will exhibit "normal" behavior. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time. Then the abuser plans on setting up his victim so that abuse can occur again. There is increased tension, anger and arguing until the cycle begins again.
Q.1 What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is defined as unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape. This includes sexual touching and fondling. Some states use the term interchangeably with rape. In NC, sexual assault can mean forcible or statutory rape, forcible or statutory sexual offense (sexual acts other than intercourse) and indecent liberties with a child.
Q.2 What is spousal rape?
Until the late 1970's, most states did not consider spousal rape a crime. Typically, spouses were exempted from the sexual assault laws. Until 1993 North Carolina law stated that "a person may not be prosecuted under this article if the victim is the person's legal spouse at the time of the commission of the alleged rape or sexual offense unless the parties are living separate and apart." In the late 1970's, feminists began efforts to change these laws. Currently, rape of a spouse is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. (From the National Center for Victims of Crime)
Q.3 What do I do if I've been sexually assaulted?
Your safety should come first. If you're in immediate danger, call police. Do not shower. The evidence that can be collected to bring a rapist to justice will likely be lost if you shower. It is also important to preserve evidence that may be on your clothes or in your hair.
Call police to report the assault. A trained FVRC advocate can be called to accompany you to examinations, which can be difficult emotionally, but are a necessary tool to put the offender behind bars. You can have the police or the hospital call FVRC if you are being treated or examined in Chatham County. The evidence collection portion of an examination is paid for by the state.
Steps to Safety
Everyone's situation is different. Please consider calling FVRC, 919-545-0224, or stopping by the Pittsboro or Siler City office to receive individualized safety planning and advocacy.
Q.1 What do I do if I'm in immediate danger?
Call 911. In Chatham County,NC, calling the police about domestic or sexual violence will not result in an immigration status check. This is not true in all counties. FVRC can also provide you with an emergency cell phone to use in crisis. Phones do not have regular plans, but can dial 911.
Q.2 What are my legal options?
North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 50B provides that victims of domestic violence can get an order of protection from the Court which can provide an additional measure of safety. Domestic Violence Restraining Orders ("50B", restraining orders, or DVPO's) are civil orders limiting the contact a person may have with a victim. A victim may be able to get an emergency ex parte order, which can provide immediate relief. A year-long restraining order could be necessary, as well. Both orders can be filed without an attorney and FVRC has advocates who are trained to assist victims in filing the paperwork. For more information, visit Chatham County Court's information page.
Q.3 How can I develop a safety plan? (From the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
If you are still in the relationship:
Think of a safe place to go if an argument occurs - avoid rooms with no exits (bathroom), or rooms with weapons (kitchen).
Keep change with you at all times for payphones.
Memorize all important numbers.
Establish a "code word" or "sign" so that family, friends, teachers or co-workers know when to call for help.
Think about what you will say to your partner if he\she becomes violent.
If you have left the relationship:
Change your phone number.
Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the batterer.
Change locks if the batterer has a key.
Avoid staying alone.
Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner.
If you have to meet your partner, do it in a public place.
Vary your routine.
Notify school and work contacts.
Call FVRC for advocacy, shelter and a personalized safety plan.919-542-5445 or 919-545-0224 (Crisis Line)
If you leave the relationship or are thinking of leaving, you should take important papers and documents with you to enable you to apply for benefits or take legal action. Important papers you should take include social security cards and birth certificates for you and your children, your marriage license, leases or deeds in your name or both yours and your partner's names, your checkbook, your charge cards, bank statements and charge account statements, insurance policies, proof of income for you and your spouse (pay stubs or W-2's), and any documentation of past incidents of abuse (photos, police reports, medical records, etc.)